Legend’s link with charity continues

The new Toby Henderson Trust building in Bedlington.
The new Toby Henderson Trust building in Bedlington.

A Newcastle United legend is to be honoured as an autism charity moves into its new home.

The parents of the late Gary Speed will officially open Toby House, the new headquarters of the Toby Henderson Trust at Earth Balance in Bedlington, on Saturday at 10.30am.

Roger and Carol Speed will be continuing a 17-year association with the charity, which started when midfielder Gary opened the previous premises at Whitehouse Farm near Morpeth.

Lesley Henderson set up the Trust in 1999 following her son Toby’s diagnosis when she found there was very little offered for both children on the autism spectrum and their families.

She said: “My first communication with Gary was about 17 years ago when I opened an envelope at home to discover a £3,000 cheque. There was a handwritten note from Gary telling me that he had been paid this for writing a football review column.

“He attend a variety of fundraisers with his footballing legend pals at a Meet the Senior Team sporting dinner.

“He also organised his own Gary Speed Golf day at Longhirst and was a truly amazing supporter of the trust.”

Since Gary was found dead in November 2011, Roger and Carol have maintained their son’s links with the Toby Henderson Trust.

Lesley added: “Meeting Gary’s Mum and Dad, his Nana and his boys has made me understand why he was such a truly incredible man. They are a lovely family. We are delighted they are coming to open our new building.

“It means such a lot that they are making the trip from Wales to be with us.”

Saturday’s event will feature performances in song and dance from children, past and present, who have benefitted from the Toby Henderson Trust. There will also be an art exhibition and lots of other festivities.

Lesley added: “This is an exciting new chapter for us. Our new centre is already thriving and we already feel at home in an amazing place where we can double the amount of children and families we support.”